Eating clean and choosing whole foods instead of processed isn’t complicated, but actually figuring out what type of diet is the best for you and your health can be overwhelming and at times, pretty difficult to figure out.
That’s where experts like nutritionists and registered dietitians come in and help you optimize your health through specific foods that are bringing the most benefits to you and your body, all while keeping you accountable and on track with your health goals.
Who is a Nutritionist?
A nutritionist is a person with specific expertise in food and nutrition in general whose role is to promote health and wellbeing as well as manage diseases and illnesses. A nutritionist does not treat a disease or illness, but he or she supports the healing treatment through proper nutrition and creating a healthy relationship with food.
A nutritionist does not have to be certified, although when looking to work with one, it would be best to find one that is. The certification not only proves their credibility but also proves their education level and knowledge base.
A certified nutritionist is often called a registered dietitian nutritionist or RD (or sometimes RDN). This is a person who is board-certified and highly educated in the field of nutrition and dietetics. In order to actually earn the RD credentials, a person needs to complete rigorous criteria set forth by governing bodies like the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND).
They need to have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent credits in science, more specifically biology, chemistry, microbiology, anatomy, and physiology, and from 2024, all dietetics will also be required to hold a master’s degree in order to be certified.
All this to show how important the right credentials are when choosing to put your health and trust into someone who’s supposed to help personalize your nutrition and dial it down so it best fits your macro and micronutrient needs.
What Kind of Services Can You Expect From a Nutritionist?
Many people may assume that a nutritionist only gives you a meal plan and tells you which foods you should or should not eat. In reality, a nutritionist does so much more than that, as creating a personalized nutrition program for someone requires many different factors. These are the kinds of services you can expect from your nutritionist:
Creating a Personalized Meal Plan
Every person that consults with a nutritionist is always going to receive a recommendation for foods they should or should not be eating. Depending on the situation and your specific case, you might be asked to experiment with eliminating certain foods from your diet or adding a variety of foods you haven’t been eating so far. You might also be asked to abstain from most common allergens and foods that invoke intolerances as they might be inflammatory and wreaking havoc in your body.
A nutritionist may offer creating a personalized meal plan for you to follow for a specific amount of time (one month, three months, or maybe even six months) or simply give you guidelines and recommendations, but leave the actual meal ideas to you. This will differ from person to person and depend on a variety of factors, from your schedule and food preferences to the severity of your condition and living situation.
Developing a Healthy Relationship With Food
A great nutritionist will also take a step back from just the pure nutritional aspect of food and analyze your eating habits and behaviors. Do you use food as fuel, rigorously track macros, eliminate sugars because you’re afraid of weight gain, binge and restrict, “punish yourself” after indulging in the so-called bad foods with overexercising, overeat when you’re under stress, or skip meals because you always feel bloated?
There’s plenty of ways to deconstruct your relationship with food and improve not just what you eat, but how, when, and why you eat as well.
Applying a Mindful Approach To Eating
The hectic and busy lives we all lead are making us eat completely mindlessly, not even properly chewing our food, let alone acknowledging what’s even on our plates. We watch TV, scroll through our phones, reply to emails, attend meetings, and even drive while munching on what’s supposed to be nourishing for our bodies.
Unfortunately, many of us have the same approach towards cooking, which makes us reach for ready-meals, fast and processed food, and a plethora of delivery apps.
Talking to a nutritionist can help you become more mindful with your meals, avoid getting distracted while you’re eating, and begin to focus on what’s on your plate. When we put a positive intention into our time spent in the kitchen and actually sitting down and eating, we tap into our parasympathetic nervous system, helping our bodies rest and digest instead of being in constant fight-or-flight mode.
Attending a Nutritionist Consultation
When you decide to make the first step and schedule your nutritionist consultation, you might wonder what that entails and what you can expect. The initial consultation usually includes a comprehensive health and nutrition assessment.
Every nutritionist has a slightly different approach, but the premise is the same: they collect as much information as they can about your eating preferences, lifestyle habits, food cravings, and overall behavior surrounding food. They also discuss any known allergies and intolerances, as well as occurring symptoms you might be experiencing. They might also order some lab tests and blood work from your physician or review existing.
Based on this detailed assessment, your nutritionist will help you evaluate the role that food plays in your life and offer to create a nutrition plan that supports your needs and health goals, whether you’re interested in weight loss, reducing your cravings, preventing emotional eating, or need help in dealing with a health problem.
Nutritionists and Chronic Illness
Autoimmune diseases and other chronic illnesses are becoming more and more common in today’s world. In many cases, there is no cure or official treatment, but fine-tuning your nutrition and finding the right foods for you can help support your healing journey, reduce your inflammation, and with it, your symptoms.
A good nutritionist will provide you with actionable steps you can take to take control of your chronic illness and find a way to manage your symptoms.
We cannot live without food, but it can be both, our medicine and our toxin. When we choose foods that benefit our gut microbiome and boost our overall health and well-being, we can manage and control whatever condition we might be dealing with.
Schedule your nutrition consultation today and let an expert help you figure out which foods are best for you. What works for someone you know might not work for you, even if it’s “healthy.” The only diet that works for you is the one that supports you with necessary nutrients that will optimize all of your body systems, from A to Z.